Aspiration News

Penguin Day Seattle

Event Date(s): 
March 25, 2006

Penguin Day Seattle took place on March 25th in downtown Seattle. Almost 90 participants joined in the festivities, which included a rich agenda. News Forge provided some excellent coverage and Deborah Elizabeth Finn offered a wonderful blog entry as well. Penguin Day Seattle pictures are posted on Flickr. The mischief makers over at PICnet also perpetrated a little pre-PD mischief. To stay informed about Penguin Day’s, join the mailing list at We’re in the planning stages for inaugural Penguin Days in Boston and Washington DC, and well as the second PD San Francisco.

Heather Carpenter Joins Aspiration as Assistant Director

Aspiration is delighted to announce that Heather Carpenter has joined us as Assistant Director, effective immediately. For the past 5 years, Heather has served as Operations Manager and Accidental Techie for nonprofit organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area and Chicago. She earned her Bachelors of Science degree in Business Administration from San Diego State University and her Masters of Management in Nonprofit Administration from North Park University in Chicago, Illinois. Heather is a member of several San Francisco Bay Area Philanthropic groups and frequently volunteers.

Ungana Afrika Research Project: Capacity Building and Tech Support in Africa NGOs

Rudi von Staden at Ungana Afrika is starting a research project looking into different ways that ICT students or recent graduates can be engaged to provide capacity building and technology support to NGOs and Small to Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) in Africa. If you are personally involved in one, or know of other projects that he can contact to participate in the research, please contact them via , which also provides more information on the project.

Take the dotOrganize Survey!

dotOrganize, a new project facilitated by ScoutSeven, is trying to get better tech/organizing tools and strategies into the hands of grassroots, social change organizers. The first and MOST IMPORTANT step in this project has been understanding what organizers on the ground actually need to support their work -- what works, what doesn't, what solutions are called for. So all you organizers out there, please take 10 minutes to complete the dotOrganize survey. This is your chance to help shape the next generation of online organizing tools for the grassroots sector!

Africa Source II

Newsforge interviewed Allen Gunn for a news piece about Africa Source II.

Rod Amis writes: "The Africa Source II (AS II) conference, an eight-day hands-on workshop aimed at building the technical skills of those working with and within non-governmental organizations (NGO) on the continent, was held in Kalangala, Uganda, last month."

Innovation Funders Network Summit

Event Date(s): 
January 30, 2006 to January 31, 2006

The Innovation Funders Network 2006 Summit took place in San Francisco on January 30th & 31st. Aspiration was honored and delighted to direct the agenda and oversee event facilitation.

The event convened funders, invited affiliate organizations and thought leaders from around the world at Wharton West in San Francisco to explore the role of innovation and networks in the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors. Over 100 participants, coming from a range of perspectives and experiences, discussed challenges and opportunities across the fast-changing landscape of innovation funding.

Over the past decade, the emergence of the internet, cellular phones and other innovations in Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) has brought about profound social and economic change. We are now living in a networked society. These networks provide new ways to collaborate, express ourselves politically and culturally, address social and economic issues, and build local and global communities. The event addressed a range of topics, including:

  • the use of ICTs in recent humanitarian relief efforts, online advocacy, community Internet, telecentres and community technology centers.
  • innovative uses of networks to deliver social and humanitarian services, advocate policy positions, communicate with constituents and the media, build collaborations and raise funds.
  • How do we ensure access? How do we equitably distribute benefits enabled by these networks? How do we foster innovation communities within the social sectors? How do we scale these innovations across issue areas and geographic regions?
  • different funding models including traditional and corporate philanthropy, social venture, peer to peer investing, online fundraising, microfinance. We will explore the use of these networks to foster collaboration amongst funders.

See the Innovation Funders Network site for complete details.

Africa Source II

Event Date(s): 
January 8, 2006 to January 15, 2006

Aspiration managed the facilitation of Africa Source II, an eight-day hands-on workshop aimed at building the technical skills of those working with and within NGOs on the African continent. The event took place on Kalangala Island on Victoria Lake, working with our favorite collaborators and event organizers, Tactical Technology Collective, and in partnership with local organizations including Wougnet and Linux Solutions.

Aspiration Executive Director Allen Gunn was interviewed about Africa Source II by Tectonic and News Forge. Photos from the event can be viewed with the Flickr tag africasource2.

Africa Source II focused on how technology, in particular Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) can be integrated into the project work of NGO’s. Over a hundred thirty NGO Support Professionals and NGO Staff working at the local level across the region were present at this meeting. Together with a handful of field leaders from Africa, Europe, North America and Asia, they explored how technology can best serve the non-profit sector in Africa both in terms of access and content. Proceedings from the event can be found on the event wiki. Leaders Forum at WSIS

Event Date(s): 
November 15, 2005 to November 18, 2005

The Telecentre Leaders Forum (see video) brought together those working in telecentres, running telecentre networks, and doing telecentre research, and provided a venue for people from across the globe with a passion for grassroots technology to connect, share stories and swap practical ideas. Aspiration led facilitation across four days of collaborative workshops, following an agenda co-designed with and their partner network.

Aspiration and Penguin Days in LXer Linux News

Don Parris, the 'evangelist' of Open Source in the faith community and an editor/writer for LXer, has written a brief compendium of organizations advocating for, promoting, and supporting Open Source Software in the nonprofit sector.  Aspiration and Penguin Days are featured.  Read more here.

Idealware Donation Tools Review

Our friend and colleague Laura Quinn at Idealware reviewed twenty-seven lower-priced online software tools that accept donations from an existing website. She found that many affordable tools are also powerful, friendly, and flexible. She offers in the report recommendations for high-quality tools, as well as a method to choose the right tool for you.  View the report 

Great work, Laura!

Web Surveys and Section 508 accessibility

After launching our first-ever NGO software survey we heard from a number of people who rightly noted that the survey as it is currently hosted on survey monkey is not accessible for web users with disabilities and assistive technologies (sometimes referred to as compliance with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act - see also and for more information.) 

After some research we found that there is indeed a scarcity of inexpensive, hosted survey solutions available that are fully accessible for people with disabilities.   

Penguin Day San Antonio

Event Date(s): 
November 5, 2005

For this event Aspiration went to Texas to partner with SalsaNet, Ployglot Consulting, and Urban 15 in facilitating discussion on the most inexpensive, flexible technologies to support Texas Nonprofits efforts, how Open Source solutions can be more secure, how to get support for Open Source solutions, and how to find the best Open Source applications.

Open Source in London: Social Source 2005

Our friends in London are hosting the second London Social Source event, in affiliation with the global Penguin Day movement.

Adrian from LASA writes:

Social Source UK 05 is for those interested in the potential of free & open source software and methods for the voluntary and non-profit sector.

Programme for SocialSource 2005:

  • introductions for those who have had no hands-on contact with Free/Open Source Software (F/OSS)
  • case studies
  • details of projects going on within the sector using F/OSS tools.
  • demonstrations of Open Source software in action
  • opportunities for discussion.

All are welcome to attend, whether new to Open Source or already involved in projects, with key stakeholders envisaged as those:

California Community Wireless Summit

Event Date(s): 
October 28, 2005 to October 29, 2005

Aspiration designed the agenda and facilitated this event, where participants explored strategies for community participation in municipal projects and creating community demand for wireless services through education and outreach. The Summit brought together representatives from community based organizations, activists, community technology and wireless experts, community Internet policy advocates, and local policymakers.Our objective is to build a statewide network of advocates working to bring Internet access and resources to all Californians.

Penguin Days in Texas: Open Source for Nonprofits Goes South


Jon Lebkowsky
Polycot Consulting, L.L.C.
512 762-6547 or 512 482-0715

Aspiration: Better Tools for a Better World

Austin, Texas, October 14, 2005 Software developers, activists and nonprofits gather at Penguin Days ( in Austin and San Antonio to demystify open source software for social change.

Penguin Days explore open source software for nonprofits and help socially-minded 'geeks' find ways to support public interest organizations.

Free Software Foundation announces Award for Social Benefit Software

The Free Software Foundation (FSF) announces the creation of a new annual award and is calling for nominations: 

<p> &quot;Free Software Award for Projects of Social Benefit&quot; </p>

Tools for Community: Mobile Phones, Speakeasy, Networks, and more..

Another story from MobileActive: Emily Gertz, our friend at WorldChanging and our prolific MobileActive blogger, profiles Tad Hirsch of txtmob fame and his Speakeasy project in Chinatown in Boston.  Using voice over IP telephony and mobile phones, Speakeasy is a "a software-enabled telephone call center staffed by multilingual community volunteers. Newcomers to Chinatown who are not fluent in English can call the service and connect with someone from the neighborhood who can provide immediate language interpretation, answer questions, and offer advice."

Cell Phones for Campaigns -- Stories from MobileActive

MobileActive is over but the work has just begun...Stories about the convergence and the use of cell phones and texting in avocacy and civic campaigns are coming in fast after the first-ever MobileActive.  The event brought together a group of activists from around the globe to explore the use of cell phones for social justice and citizen participation campaigns.

Patrick Burnett, a participant from Fahamu, puts it well: "In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) SMS is being used to monitor child rights violations.

Greenpeace Argentina campaign against forest destruction In Argentina indigenous communities are using SMS to halt the bulldozers that destroy their forest livelihoods.  And in the Philippines, angry activists have used SMS to hold government to account. The power of cellular technology is no longer up for debate; what remains to be discussed is how to maximize it for social good. Mobile Active Convergence, held recently in Canada, did just this... What came out of the three-day event...went far beyond this expectation, as a diverse group of people from around the world banged their heads together, mixed their ideas and thrashed out a vision for just how far cellular technology can go in creating a better world. The end result was new ideas, the formation of a lasting network and the production of a body of knowledge available to many beyond the confines of the conference."

Donation Tool Survey

Our colleague Laura Quinn over at the newly-created Idealware is conducting a survey about nonprofit experiences with online donation tools. The survey is at

Idealware ( is conducting this survey to understand how online donation tools are working for people in the real world.  The survey results will be incorporated into an in-depth review of online donation tools that will be available for free towards the end of October.

MobileActive Convergence

Event Date(s): 
September 22, 2005 to September 24, 2005

Aspiration and Green Media Toolshed convened a working session of global activists, communications staff, technology experts, and foundation staff to mine a wide variety of experience, expertise and vision. The goal of the MobileActive was to explore the power of the cell phone as an organizing and campaign communication tool with leading activists from all over the world; to share knowledge, stories, and strategies; and accelerate the use of cell phones as a successful tool in campaigns, human rights efforts and field organizing. Activists from across the world including Africa, South Korea, the Philippines, India, the Ukraine, and the Americas participated in the first-of-its-kind event.


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